A London trip

My daughter and I are back home again after a long weekend away in London. It’s a little trip we made as we await her final exams results. We booked it for this past weekend as Monday was a holiday here (Pentecost), I had also worked a little extra to compensate for taking Friday off as well and we flew out Thursday evening.

We had been told to get to Schiphol airport (Amsterdam) three hours ahead of time as there have been big delays at security due to staff shortages. As I finished work early on Thursday, we decided to leave sooner and just have a little extra time. In hindsight absolutely not necessary; we got through security 16 minutes after arriving at the airport by train! That included getting to security, an extra search of both our small suitcases (apparently Dutch cheese can be mistaken for explosives!) and an extra pat down for my daughter. We figured we’d have enough time to get dinner but several restaurants were closed and in the end all we had were very overpriced sandwiches. To add to the endless wait our flight to London Gatwick turned out to be delayed by an hour and a half! After killing over 5 hours at the airport, we finally departed…

… and didn’t land in Gatwick till close to midnight. When we got off the plane we were stuck behind locked doors at the end of a hall for another 15 minutes, before they were apologetically opened and we could proceed on to passport control. That meant that the train we had planned on taking wasn’t running anymore and the underground we were supposed to connect to wasn’t running anymore either. We were lucky to find a train into London, then were able to switch to a nightbus and finally got to my brother’s house in Hampstead at just after 2 am. Things did get better after that.

On Friday it was my brother’s birthday. His 18 year old daughter, my niece, was home for the weekend (studying for her final exams that she’s in the middle of right now) and had arranged a delicious birthday cake for him…

…we had brought a few gifts and after the little celebration, my daughter and I went into town. First walking to Camden market, about 20 minutes away from where my brother lives. We went into this huge, trendy fashion store, Cyberdog, where an actual DJ was playing music and I was very tempted to buy a smiley t-shirt (if only they had had it in old lady large sizes!)…

We then took the underground to Central London and walked around Oxford Street, Regent Street, Piccadilly Circus, Chinatown, we walked up The Mall until we got to a closure, so we couldn’t get closer to Buckingham Palace than in the pictures below. We hadn’t realized it at the time when we booked, but our trip coincided with the Queen’s 70 year Jubilee and as you can see, boy was London crowded, with flags everywhere.

At the end of the afternoon we were quite pooped. We ducked into St. James’s park, just off The Mall, and along with so many others, rested and relaxed on the grass for about an hour before we were due to meet my brother and my niece for a nice birthday dinner at a delicious Turkish restaurant. As a surprise my niece had also arranged to have some friends and her maternal granddad come to the restaurant and we had a really nice birthday dinner for my brother there.

The next day was Tower Bridge day for mini-me and I. We decided on a very late warm lunch (mini-me picked Five Guys with view on Tower Bridge) so we wouldn’t have to deal with that in the evening when we had other plans. We walked along the South Bank for a while, then went on to Westminster for a quick look, ending the afternoon by taking a bus back to my brother’s house to drop off our bags.

In the evening we stopped by Covent Garden and ate simple crepes before heading to the theatre to watch Mamma Mia. The musical was a lot of fun! They asked the audience to not sing along to the songs during the show but to wait for the end. Then indeed, during the finale in no time everyone was was up and clapping, dancing and singing along. It was joyous.

Afterwards we walked on to Leicester Square, took the underground to Camden and met up with my brother and niece to go clubbing in a club my niece had heard of but never been to. My niece and daughter had been talking about wanting to do that, to see how we ‘old people’ would fare. They just couldn’t imagine that when we were younger my brother and I had gone to dance clubs together as well. While we were on the dancefloor my brother admitted to me that the last time he’d been out to a club to dance was maybe 10 years ago and I think that may be pretty much as long since I’ve been to one as well (a 1980s night, if I recall correctly). I think the girls wanted to see us go all out and get drunk but while we all did have a few drinks, no one went that far. My daughter did learn that she likes a gin & tonic (my brother’s drink) and my niece learned that she liked the taste of Baileys (my drink)…

For the next day (Sunday) mini-me and I had planned to spend a few hours in the Victoria and Albert museum and then also walk through nearby Harrods. As the previous night had gotten very late and we slept in long, we had to make a choice as both would be closing at 5 pm and we wouldn’t be getting there until 2 or so. This was mini-me’s trip and she picked Harrods. We walked around, wowed by prices and oppulence (not only in Harrods but also in the cars you see outside in the nearby streets) and as we were quite tired, we ended up in a nearby pub where we had a pie (me) and a burger (she). We were getting a little chilly and our feet were quite exhausted from all the walking and dancing we’d been doing, so we opted for an early evening movie at the cinema close to my brother’s house (while he was driving my niece back to school in Cambridge at that time), away from the crowds in the city. We watched the Sandra Bullock and Channing Tatum film The Lost City. Not great, not terrible, just enjoyable light fare for our exhausted feet and minds.

On Monday, our final day in London arrived. My brother worked from home while mini-me and I decided to go to Kenwood House on Hampstead Heath. We had wanted to try the V&A museum, but there was a strike by underground stations staff and we figured it best to avoid the underground altogether that day. We took the bus to Kenwood House, had a scone and some tea there (and mini-me fed a little robin) and walked around Kenwood House. We then went back to where my brother lives, walked around the neighbourhood there (and past Emma Thompson’s house, which is maybe 20 minutes away on foot from where my brother lives – her house isn’t in the pictures I share here) and did some last minute pre-packaged scones and Jubilee magazine (for my mother) shopping before heading back.

My brother drove us to Luton airport for our return flight and we got there two and a half hours before time. Again we were lucky: no long queues for security and we were through pretty quickly. We had enough time to actually sit down for a dinner. Then, after dinner, we got the news that our 8 pm flight to Amsterdam had been canceled, like so many other flights had been recently! Our only option was a flight home the next day, on Tuesday afternoon at just after 4 pm! We also had to book our own hotel for the night that they said would get refunded (it made more sense for us to book a nearby hotel than to travel all the way to my brother and then back again the next day). I immediately got on to Booking.com and found the closest still availabe hotel, which was about a 10 minute walk away.

When we got to the hotel the lady at the desk was telling other stranded passengers who had also just booked on their phones that the hotel was overbooked! I started checking other hotels while we waited, just in case, but there were no vacancies anywhere near where we were. When it was our turn we were lucky, there was a room available for us after all (and in the end for those two women who had been ahead of us as well, it turned out). Mini-me and I eased the pain with a Smirnoff with coke for her and a Baileys for me and I had to get in touch with work, letting them know I wouldn’t be there on Tuesday. We were also able to arrange a late check out of the hotel for the next day, and after refreshments, made our way back to the airport and finally flew home again yesterday afternoon.

Despite the weird end with a canceled flight, we’d really had a great time and it was so good to re-connect with my brother and niece again. There were also some lessons learned from this trip:

  • I’m glad our summer holiday this year will not involve any flights.
  • I need to get better (newer) walking shoes before the summer.
  • Jubilees are better watched on TV than experienced live. It was just too crowded and we avoided being where the celebrations were for most of the time.
  • If I do get Covid, then I must have gotten it while in London. Time will tell.
  • Clubbing – been there and done that for the most part. It is only fun when you like and know the music but the club we went to (despite a nice dance beat) only played 3 songs I knew in the 3 hours we were there. If it hadn’t been for the girls and seeing them enjoy themselves, I would have left way sooner.
  • I wish I could go out to a London theatre every week.
  • It’s always fun having some alone time with one of my kids.

I have no idea when, but I am already looking forward to my next London trip.

Paws and plans

I was driving into work yesterday morning and I was about to clear smudges off my windscreen, when I saw what they actually were. I stopped myself and smiled and drove to the parking garage where I tried to capture those smudges with my phone camera. It’s difficult for the camera to actually focus on smudges on glass…

Yep, cat paws! Not from my cats, I don’t think, they don’t climb cars, but I have seen neighbourhood cats on parked cars here regularly and these prints must be from one of them. Soooo cute! On my way home, I alas did need to clean the windshield, so they’re sadly gone now.

We have a long weekend coming up (Pentecost) which means we have Monday off and I have taken Friday off work as well. Some years ago, when Junior was finishing his secondary school, he and I spent some time together in London and he got to pick all the things he wanted to do. It was a nice little early graduation gift for him and at the time I decided that when my daughter graduates, I would do the same with her. In the summer of 2020, at the height of Corona, she graduated from an intermediate level secondary school and there was no chance whatsoever that we could even do a London trip. She went on to do two more years of a higher lever secondary school and she just finished her exams last week. We are still waiting for results but she has been doing really well in school, so I think she will be fine. No matter what, now was the time to do her London trip, I figured.

We booked plane tickets three weeks ago and we’re flying off to London tomorrow evening and returning Monday evening (June 6th). We’ll be staying with my brother again and, as chance has it, it will be his birthday that weekend too! I don’t think I’ve celebrated a birthday with him in person since we were teens. My niece is doing her final exams too and will probably be studying a lot but we will at least get to see her as well.

Like Junior at the time, mini me gets to pick what we do in London. She chose Mamma Mia as the musical she wants to go to, she wants to wander through Harrods and she wants to do a museum. We picked the Victoria and Albert museum, which I first visited during my last trip to London for Uncle Vanya and loved. Of course, there will be scones and Oxford Street (she likes to (window) shop) and she wants to go up Tower Bridge and we’ll be doing more, but we’ll figure it all out as we go along. When I called my brother three weeks ago about the dates he said, “Ah, that means you will be here for the Jubilee weekend!” I hadn’t realized that, so we may go with the flow with that as well.

I work from home tomorrow and then we fly in the evening. We’re both very excited for our tip.

More Richard favourites

Michele added a second part to her Richard Armitage favourites challenge (and Armidreamer also participated). When I start a challenge I usually mean to finish it (see my answers to the first part) and so here it is. I needed to think on my answers for a bit and they may still sound rambling but that’s because these are not questions I necessarily think about a lot and so I don’t have any clear cut answers either. Anyway, for what it’s worth, my two cents (or two hundred cents, given the longish answers to some of the questions)…

1 You get one day with Richard what would your itinerary consist of?

Where would this day be? In London? So much to do in London! Like go for a walk somewhere (Hampstead Heath, the South Bank, Banksy walking tour, etc.), stop somewhere for scones and tea, maybe check out a (flea) market or an awesome museum like the Portrait Gallery. Dinner in Chinatown and spend the evening at the theatre or in the cinema, followed by a nightcap somewhere in a pub.

If he came here to The Netherlands, I’d take him on a little bike tour, walk through Utrecht (or really any of the old towns with canals, like Leiden, Delft, Gouda), make sure he ate some raw herring, take in an art museum (Amsterdam has some really famous ones with Rembrandts and Van Goghs), have dinner somewhere nice, preferably outside, in the evening go to the improv English language comedy club Boom Chicago in Amsterdam (gosh, I should go there again anyhow, haven’t been in 25 years or so! For American readers, Seth Meyers spent some time doing stand up there).

Either any of that or we just spend the day reading and puttering around the house or in the garden, before an evening out to dinner, theatre, comedy club, whatever. I’m not really particular, I’d give him options and let him pick or maybe he’d have ideas that I’d never think of.

2 What book adaptation would you pitch to Richard to star in and why?

Nope, nothing I could think of at first. Another romantic (preferably offbeat) hero would be nice after all the action and murder stuff he’s done, but I have no specific book heroes in mind. But then something did suddenly spring to mind! Speaking of an offbeat romantic hero, and a comedy to boot: he might be lovely as Don Tillman, the genetics professor with Asperger’s syndrome in The Rosie Effect. Don is sometimes compared to Gregory Peck in looks, I think Richard could pull that off too.

3 Richard has a charitable heart what cause is near and dear to you that you would ask Richard to support?

Human rights / the plight of refugees are usually closest to my heart, so organisations like UNHCR or UNICEF, SOS Children’s Villages or War Child. Those are big names and big organisations. Supporting something smaller and more local for children’s rights or refugees or the homeless or food banks would be fine too.

4 What flaw of Richards would you like to see him work on?

The need to please everyone.

5 Which of these ill fated characters did you relate to and why: Lucas North / Raymond DeMerville / Daniel Miller / Thorin Oakenshield

I can relate to Daniel Miller in that he grew up caught between two cultures but that never was explored deeply, just mentioned, so no real journey to follow him on there. Of these characters, I liked (and therefore related to) Thorin Oakenshield best, the fierce, honourable protecter of his people, trying to find a home again.

6 In a scavenger hunt where the end destination is your home what three clues would you give Richard to find you?

I’d need only one clue to guide him to the town I live in: Dutch cheese.

7 What three words would you describe your interest in a fandom?

Information and enthusiasm in my own quiet niche.

8 John Thornton embodies______________

Honesty, fairness and love.

9 What’s your favorite item of clothing that Richard wears?

Costume or private life? Again, I’m not very particular about his clothes, I’d be more particular about how his hair looked or whether he has a beard/stubble or is clean-shaven. As the question is about clothes, I will say that I really liked his look in The Crucible, especially that black coat turned up at the collar…

I like him a bit ruffled in a simple dark shirt…

…he cleans up nicely in a suit too…

… and I’m very partial to a turtleneck as well…

10 Complete this sentence: “I’m a Richard Armitage fan because he________________”

…. feels like a kindred spirit, more so than any other actor I know.

That’s all, folks! 🙂

Fangirling Armitage at the theatre

Finally, I’m getting around to actually posting a little more about seeing Uncle Vanya in London last week. I’ve been writing this for the past 5 days or so, just never get around to actually finishing it, it’s just been too busy. But here it now finally is. This also ties in nicely with Herba’s and Pö’s ‘Mach was’ challenge as this time it’s all about doing something with theatre!

A few months ago in an interview Richard Armitage said: “I understand that people aren’t here to see their favourite actor doing something” but I am here to inform the world that the man is thoroughly mistaken. I specifically went to London to actually see him do something (yes, “mach was”!), namely to see him perform in Uncle Vanya at the Harold Pinter Theatre. Twice. I had originally bought tickets for only one performance but then a few weeks ago decided to buy a second ticket for a second evening as well. I was planning on going with Suzy but alas she had to cancel last minute due to a shelter dog arriving into her care. Yes, she is that kind of woman: putting a shelter animal above Richard. Suzy rocks! Her ticket for Monday evening, February 24th, went to our sweet friend Hariclea, who lives and works in London.

As Hari had to work late that Monday evening, we agreed to meet up in a sandwich place called “Ole & Steen” right near the Harold Pinter Theatre, an ideal place to get something quick to eat before the play started. I walked by the theatre and checked out the billboards…

… before going into “Ole & Steen”. I walked in and immediately saw the face of an actor I recognized, although I couldn’t for the life of me remember from what show or movie. I didn’t remember his name but I’m pretty good with faces and I just knew it was… well… that guy. I bought myself a cup of tea and went upstairs to drink it, sitting at a table facing the door, so I could watch out for Hari. I gave in to temptation and attempted a picture of that actor from above (he was sitting right below me with company that had arrived just after I had). Later, on the underground, I recognized him on posters for Only Fools & Horses, which was playing in another nearby theatre. His name is Paul Whitehouse.

Then, just before Hari walked in, I saw Rosalind Eleazar walk in as well! I only knew her from publicity stills for Uncle Vanya but I just knew it was her.

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Anyway, Hari arrived and we ate some delicious toasties before making our way to the theatre. We bought a booklet and poster and then headed for our seats on row D, seats 19 & 20. That was the 4th row and so close to the stage.

The theatre felt intimate and beautiful…

… and when the curtain went up, there was a beautiful set with Richard Armitage in it, as Dr Astrov, just a few meters away from me!

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I could see his every move and every expression and honestly, was so fascinated, with my eyes drawing back to him every time, that I may have missed other nuances in other actor’s performances. Like others have said before me, I remember Chekhov plays as being boring and depressing (I only ever read The Cherry Orchard and Uncle Vanya back in high school and have completely forgotten since what they were about). I didn’t write down any notes after the play, so what I write here, I write from memory at least a week later.

The humour quickly popped up and kept on popping up throughout the play but I wouldn’t call it a funny play. It was tragic, really, especially at the end. I was fixated on Richard during that first viewing, but the stand out performance for me really was Toby Jones. I only know a few actors who can completely disappear into a role. James McAvoy is such an actor and so is Toby Jones. His is very empassioned and from up close you can even see him spit while he makes his empassioned speeches. His Olivier nomination is totally deserved…

Toby Jones UV Olivier nomination

I also very much enjoyed Ciaran Hinds (I would’ve liked to see more of him!) and Rosalind Eleazar (who was better during the second evening I watched this).

I had read some criticism of Aimee Lou Wood as Sonia, but (despite a slightly condescending tone) she had the most heart in this play and I think I could identify with her most.

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The doctor, no matter how handsome and mesmerzing, was quite cruel to her, I thought, by leading her on and then pushing her away. She didn’t have the power to break free from him and stand on her own and she is the definition of self-sacrifice (not in a good way). Yet I still did like her.

Anna Calder-Marshall as Nana is endearing too and she gets to tousle Richard’s hair and stroke his cheek every night!

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Rosalind Eleazar as Yelena even gets to kiss Richard every night in an almost cringe-worthy scene. The kiss is good but Astrov just pushes too much. She’s so bored with her life and too lazy to change anything about it. Dr Astrov doesn’t seem to have much respect for her and yet is attracted to her, because of her outward beauty. We felt there was some chemistry lacking between her and Astrov (he had more chemistry with Sonia, I thought) but that may have been due to the relationship between Astrov and Yelena; they just do not fit.

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The chemistry was very different with Vanya (Toby Jones). He too is obsessed with Yelena and those two really did seem to have a real connection and understanding, more than Yelena has with her own husband, the professor (Ciaran Hinds).

Yet Yelena is a spoiled brat choosing to live with the rich guy even though they don’t seem that suited for each other and Vanya is unable to escape his own bleak situation. That, really, is the whole theme of the play – everyone is stuck in a situation which is far from ideal and yet no one can break away. They have it in them to change if they really want to but they somehow just can’t and are stuck. This little scene was played out right before me while I sat in row D, it felt like I could almost touch the actors, I loved it.

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Dr. Astrov is also a very frustrating character, losing his will to help people, stuck in an impossible admiration for a woman not really that worthy and blind to someone who could be worthy. He is almost at his best when he is being passionate about the woods and yes, that drunken scene with Peter Wight really was very funny. As with every funny moment in this piece, however, there is always an underlying feeling of tragedy.

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At the end of the play, despite Sonia’s message of hope, a sense of uselessness remains – useless because everyone stays stuck and no one ever takes the power to make a change. There is hope for change but it doesn’t happen yet. I liked that this Uncle Vanya gave me a new view on the story and made me think that maybe Chekhov isn’t as boring as I remembered after all! The feeling that has stayed with me most since I saw it, is that this really was a quality staging of the play, I really enjoyed it, the performances were great, but it didn’t blow me away like The Crucible had at the time or even Jane Eyre.

There was a standing ovation (the following is not my picture but pretty much what the curtain call looked like)…

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… and Hari and I made our way to that stage door where we waited for Richard and the other actors to appear. We were joined by Cindy, a very nice lady Hari had met in New York when she was there to see Love, Love, Love.

Hari offered to take some pictures as she didn’t have anything she wanted to have signed. I already shared those pictures here. Before even the first actor came out, we were told by the security guard that Richard would not be posing for selfies, that he would only be signing things. Ciaran was the first one out and when he said something he was so soft-spoken and gentle. He gave off a beautiful vibe and felt so different from his big presence on stage! I complimented him on his performance and he signed my poster. There was a little more said, but I can’t remember what, it did include an exchange of smiles.

Richard was out next, he swiftly walked to the end of the line and worked his way up, signing up a storm. I swear, that man is quick, there hardly is any time to exchange many comments. He too has a very different presence than his on stage presence. He seems almost huddled, ducking a bit with his baseball cap on, and seems slighter in stature than when you see him on stage and screen. It’s not the first time I have noticed that but it still surprises me every time I see him. He is smiley and grateful even though he does seem determined to get it over with as soon as possible. I thanked Richard for the performance, said I had enjoyed it, but by the time I had finished saying that he was already starting to sign the next person’s programme. He did turn back to me, looked me straight in the eye, smiled and thanked me, so that was a teeny, tiny heartstopping moment.

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Here are a few pictures I hadn’t shared before. Just as Richard was finishing, Anna Calder-Marshall came out and started signing her autographs.

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Richard was gone after what seemed like a flash, Anna Calder-Marshall took a little more time and was a little more chatty. Very sweet.

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While we were waiting I caught sight of the blue hair of fellow fan Sahra who wasn’t that far off from us and who had said on Twitter she’d be there.

Sahra Esther tweets

I went up to her, also met her husband, and we had lovely brief chat. I then needed to get back to Hari and Cindy again as more actors came out, so we lost sight of each other. It was a lovely brief encounter, though.

Toby Jones came and was happy to sign and pose for selfies as well. My selfie with him is in the other post, won’t share it again here as I do quite I hate how I looked there, but here’s another picture Hari took of Toby with my phone:

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He’s lovely and has such a jolly face. I think he took it all in with amusement and was pleased with all the kind words he received.

Rosalind Eleazar and Peter Wight also came by and they signed my poster too. The end result is the signatures covering each other on my poster as there weren’t too many lighter spots on the image where signatures could be put with dark pens. Note to self: next time also have a silver or white pen handy!

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As Hari and I walked to Piccadilly Circus underground station we chatted more about the play. Hari was mentioning how we really liked Rosalind Eleazar but noted that she lacked some chemistry with Richard. Right at that very moment, next to the entrance to the underground, we actually walked by Rosalind Eleazar herself! Had she heard us? We weren’t exactly whispering and when we noticed we both smacked our hands over our mouths. We walked down the stairs and then burst out laughing. We hoped that if she had overheard us, she had hopefully also overheard the praise.

The second viewing of Uncle Vanya happened on Tuesday evening, the 25th. Before going to the theatre again, I met up with some new fans, people I only ‘knew’ online. Michele from The M Files blog and Rachel had booked a restaurant for us not far from the theatre. Squirrel, who comments on my blog, was also part of the party and after I arrived we were also joined by Armidreamer. All of them such lovely and generous women. Michele, Squirrel and Armidreamer even came bearing gifts! I’m such a bad person, I didn’t even think to do that… Thank you again, ladies!

After getting to know each other a little and chatting about Richard and eating we made our way to the theatre (minus Armidreamer, who was going to go on another night). My seat this time was up in the royal circle in the first row. Apparently it was a restricted view seat (due to a railing) but really, there was no restriction there that was bothersome at all.

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And look, down there you are Rachel and Michele, on your phones!

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I was glad I went to see the play for a second time. The first evening my focus had been on Richard so much that I felt I may have missed things. The second evening, with a more birdseye view, I was into the whole story and the other characters more as well. Again another great performance and maybe because I had a better overview I enjoyed the story more too the second time around.

After the curtain call I made my way downstairs and to the side exit where I found that Michele and Rachel were already standing there, right at the exit of the stage door. They sure had made it out quickly. Squirrel joined us not long after. I posted pictures of the second stage door night here. We had the same info from the security guard who told us again that Richard wouldn’t do any selfies, just autographs. We were able to chat with that security guy a bit while waiting for actors to appear, he was really nice. A big guy with a calming demeanor. I had also warned the ladies at dinner to not expect too much interaction, that Richard goes by in a flash. I was not wrong.

Anna Calder-Marshall was the first one out this time around.

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And Richard followed soon after, again making a beeline for the end of the row first and travelling back to the door. Here are some more pictures I hadn’t posted before.

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Rachel and Michele offered Richard a gift bag which he thanked Michele for as he swiftly moved on. He went by so quickly, I don’t think she even noticed him saying thank you! Again I offered a compliment while this time he signed my programme booklet and received a quick smile in return. We were standing next to another long time fan, Jan Black, whom we had started chatting to (I felt a little famous when she said she recognized me from my blog!). Look, Jan, there you are in the corner of the last pic above. 🙂

When Rosalind Eleazar came out I mentioned just having seen her in David Copperfield at the cinema and she grinned and said that that certainly was lighter fare than Uncle Vanya. Luckily she didn’t seem to have recognized me from the evening before and the unfortunate remarks she may or may not have overheard. Speaking of Copperfield: not only Rosalind was in that…

Rosalind Eleazar David Copperfield

… but also Paul Whitehouse, whom I had seen sitting in “Ole & Steen” the day before.

Paul Whietehouse David Copperfield

Anyway, back to the stage door. Here’s another picture Squirrel took of Rachel, Michele and I with the lovely Toby Jones. Just look at his jolly face, I love it. He signed my programme booklet and when I asked him for a picture with all of us, he took his time to pose. Very sweet.

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We also asked the same of Ciaran Hinds and he also very willingly posed with us. Squirrel didn’t want to be in the pictures and was a little nervous about getting the shot. He was so sweet, told her to not worry, he’d wait for her to get it. She also had a little exchange in French with Ciaran, who is fluid in French (we later found out he apparently lives in Paris part of the time and has a French wife). Squirrel took the pictures, we thought, but I didn’t think to check my phone and later back at my brother’s house noticed that something must have malfunctioned, there was no group picture with Ciaran after all. Never mind, I have lovely memories nonetheless and am really chuffed I got to meet my Captain Wentworth! This reminds me that I actually told him that I have enjoyed watching him since Captain Wenworth and he smiled, seemd pleased and said that was quite a while ago.

Ciaran was the very last one out (“my goodness are you all still waiting for me?” he asked) and while we waited for him opposite the stage door, I caught another quick last glimpse of Richard inside. Just a blur in his dark jacket, but an extra glimpse of him nonetheless. We halfheartedly said in the general direction of the stage door “Look back at me!” but alas, that did not happen.

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I left the stage door with a nicely signed programme book and big smiles on my face. The actors really don’t have to do this stage door thing but it is really lovely when they do do it.

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The next day my plans for the day fell through so I met up again for lunch with the 3 ladies. We had lovely pie in a pub…

… and walked to Covent Garden. On the way there we saw a shop sign that made us think of Richard Armitage: bearded man with blue eyes and bare-chested…

… and a t-shirt we thought could be fun for him…

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Not long after I made my way back to my brother’s house to collect my things and then on to the airport, where I caught an early evening flight home again.

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I left London with lovely memories of meeting some very nice ladies and with new Richard Armitage, but also Ciaran Hinds and Toby Jones, memories made.

This past week the news came that Uncle Vanya has been nominated for 4 Olivier awards…

… and I have to say I especially agree with the Toby Jones and set design nominations. Fingers crossed! Although, in the acting department I am torn between Toby and James McAvoy as Cyrano de Bergerac.

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Either will be a great win.

And now, it’s time to do something else with my afternoon off (compensating for working extra on Wednesday). Tea is finished…

E cup

… and Mr Esther (who has the day off as always on Fridays) and I are picking up our mini me daughter soon from school and heading off to Ikea.

At the Victoria & Albert Museum

Before I go into a whole “Armitage fan experience in London” post, I’m first posting about something else I was able to do there. I had arrived in London last Sunday morning and spent a lovely day just hanging out and chatting with my brother and some with my niece.

Then on Monday I had the day to myself and I decided to finally visit the Victoria and Albert Museum in Kensington. I had never been there and had always meant to go there one day. It was a good day to pick that, as it was a cold, dreary and very wet day. Picture taken from the bus I was on; the window was wet, it almost looks like an impressionist painting.

20200224_124333I got to the museum and somehow it seemed much larger than I had thought. I mean, I knew it housed a very diverse collection but this was much bigger than I had expected.

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I wandered around on the ground floor a bit, particularly liking the statues gallery…

… and then went in search of the café for something to eat. The old café was beautiful, but alas there was no space for me to sit there…

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So, I sat in the more modern section and really enjoyed my scone and cup of tea.

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Even going to a bathroom at the café was a museum experience with old tiles and fawcets bearing Georg Vth initials, which indicates they were somewhere from the beginning of the 20th century.

Speaking of royalty, on my way to the medieval section I passed the car Harry and Meghan had used at the end of their wedding day

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It was basically an ad for the vintage cars exhibition that was also on at the V&A but that I didn’t end up visiting.

In the medieval section I was struck by this early 16th century tapestry from Brussels depicting Queen Esther (she after whom I have been named):

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I also love looking at old books, like this early printed book from 1521, not long after the printing press had been invented.

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Some more nice vistas as you walk through the museum:

I have seen lots of medieval art and statues and the like in many museums over the years, so for me the high point of the museum was something I have not seen that much of: an exhibition on early photography. Even just looking at all those cameras before you enter the room was fascinating.

I was in awe seeing an early heliograph image of Christ carrying the cross from 1827. You can barely see the image but it’s there (click to enlarge)…

… and an 1840’s daguerreotype image of a collage of famous faces.

I liked this 1850s image. Imagine keeping that little dog still enough for long enough to create this image!

An early camera was on display…

And there were more fascinating 19th century images, with one image also of Alice Liddell, who was the ‘real’ Alice in Wonderland.

Absolutely fascinating, including some early 3D imagery you could see through this viewer but that I couldn’t take pictures of.

The other section I was fascinated with was the theatre collection (with a little movie glam thrown in).  The horse for the War Horse production was there…

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And other theatre costumes…

There was the Henry V costume as worn by Richard Burton…

And a costume designed by Dior for Vivien Leigh in a movie…

Vivien Leigh seems to have bequeathed some of her memorabilia to the V&A. The Oscar she had won for A Streetcar Named Desire in the 1950s was on display…

… as was a telegram addressed to Laurence Olivier (Vivien Leigh’s husband at the time) from Lillian and Dorothy Gish, movie stars of mainly the silent movie era, congratulating Leigh on her brilliant acting performance in Streetcar.

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There were more awards on display from other actors for other performances:

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And some music related memorabilia of David Bowie…

and Madness…

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This is just a tiny impression of all there is to see at the V&A and I saw way more than I took pictures of. It’s a great museum, very diverse and I by far haven’t seen everything. I may have to return there again sometime.

By the time I finally emerged from the musem at the end of the afternoon, it had stopped raining. I again took a bus, this time to Piccadilly Circus, and the view was somewhat less impressionist:

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I was off to go and meet Hariclea for evening theatre shenanigans at the Harold Pinter Theatre. More on that in my next post. 🙂